A five-game losing streak in September leading to a sub-.500 record could very easily end a team's playoff chances. The struggling Arizona Diamondbacks should be thankful they reside in the lackluster NL West.
The Diamondbacks hope to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss and a 10th straight road defeat Wednesday afternoon when they close a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.Arizona (71-73) led the West for most of this season before it was overtaken by Los Angeles on Saturday following the second of three straight losses at Dodger Stadium. Back-to-back losses at San Francisco have dropped the Diamondbacks a season-high 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers -- winners of nine of 10 -- with 18 games remaining.Eugenio Velez singled home the winning run with one out in the ninth, lifting the Giants to a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.The loss was particularly disappointing because Arizona battled back from a two-run deficit in the top of the ninth on Chris Snyder's two-run homer."It was a pretty frustrating loss," manager Bob Melvin said. "I thought several times in this game we had some momentum, we had a good chance to win that game. Obviously it's been a frustrating trip for us up to this point. You have no choice but to go out there or try to take the last game of the series tomorrow and get back on a roll at home."During this five-game skid -- also done May 26-30 -- the Diamondbacks are batting .199. They have scored 19 runs during the nine-game road losing streak, their first since Aug. 29-Sept. 18, 2004.The Giants (64-80) have won four straight, one shy of their season high set Aug. 20-24.Arizona's Adam Dunn went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday. He is batting .226 (7-for-31) with two homers, four RBIs and 10 strikeouts in his last 10 games.Dunn isn't the only Diamondback struggling offensively. Newcomer David Eckstein is hitless in his last 15 at-bats while shortstop Stephen Drew is batting .138 (4-for-29) in seven games since hitting for the cycle on Sept. 1.Having Dan Haren (14-8, 3.41 ERA) on the mound normally would give Arizona an excellent chance at ending a losing streak. The right-hander, however, has pitched poorly in three of his last four starts, leading to speculation he may be injured."A lot of times when guys struggle, (observers) search for answers healthwise," Haren told the Diamondbacks' official Web site. "It is humanly possible for pitchers to get hit around and not be hurting."Haren gave up five runs for the second consecutive start, allowing six hits and a season-worst four walks Friday in a 7-0 loss to the Dodgers.The right-hander is 5-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 10 career starts against the Giants. He limited them to two runs over eight innings and struck out nine in a 10-2 win at San Francisco on July 25.Bengie Molina got a night off from his normal catching duties Tuesday, but singled in the tying run in the sixth. He is batting .455 (10-for-22) with four RBIs in seven games this month.Brad Hennessey (1-1, 12.46) makes his first major league start in nearly two years, taking the place of an ineffective Kevin Correia. The right-hander, who saved 19 games for the Giants last season, was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on May 7 after struggling in 11 relief appearances. He was 7-10 with a 4.83 ERA and three complete games in 21 starts with Fresno.Hennessey is 0-2 with 4.73 ERA in 13 games -- three starts -- against Arizona.